PORTLAND, OREGON / HIGH POINT, N.C…Freightliner LLC today announced that John Thomas III, President of Thomas Built Buses, has decided to leave his position to take a new role in the company’s business. Freightliner has named John O’Leary as his successor.
Thomas Built Buses is a subsidiary of Freightliner LLC and is a leading North American manufacturer of school buses.
John Thomas III, the great grandson of company founder Perley Thomas, has served as President of Thomas Built Buses since 1992. John Thomas III built the company from a smaller participant in the school bus market. The family sold a majority share of the company to Berkshire Partners in 1996 and Thomas III was instrumental in the sale of all shares to DaimlerChrysler in 1998.
John Thomas III will continue on as a consultant to Thomas Built Buses and will advise the company on a variety of topics.
“We are grateful to John Thomas III for his many years of successful service to the company bearing his family’s name, as well as for his leadership in the school bus industry,” said Rainer Schmueckle, President and CEO of Freightliner LLC. “The name ‘Thomas’ is synonymous with high quality, safe transportation for North America’s students. Neither the name on the bus nor the relentless attention to quality and safety will change. We are extremely pleased that John Thomas will continue to play a role in furthering the company’s success in the future.”
“I am looking forward to my new role at Thomas Built Buses and to helping the company continue its long tradition of product and operational excellence that has served its customers well,” said John Thomas III. “I am very proud to have our family name on every school bus designed and manufactured by Thomas Built Buses and am confident that the company will continue to enjoy success as it endeavors to build the safest, highest quality, most efficient school buses possible.”
As the new President of Thomas Built Buses, John O’Leary will have full responsibility for all functional areas of the High Point, N.C.-based school bus manufacturing company. O’Leary, 41, joined Freightliner in 2000 and has held key financial positions including Director of Corporate Audit. Since March 2001, he has directed the daily management of Freightliner’s successful turnaround program. Prior to joining Freightliner, O’Leary worked for another North American truck manufacturer where he served in a series of financial positions with increasing responsibility in aftermarket parts, corporate auditing, and dealership and manufacturing controlling.
O’Leary holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Accounting from Seattle University and completed the executive development program at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.
“John O’Leary’s strong financial background coupled with the leadership and results-oriented focus he has demonstrated during the turnaround of Freightliner LLC will enable him to take Thomas Built to the next level of performance as the company makes large investments in new products and production facilities,” said Michael von Mayenburg, Freightliner LLC’s Senior Vice President of Engineering and Technology and Vice Chairman of the Thomas Built Buses Board of Directors. “Under O’Leary’s leadership, we are confident that Thomas Built Buses will not only sustain its current top ranking in its marketplace, but also accelerate its growth and profitability.”
Founded in 1916 in High Point, Thomas Built’s corporate headquarters and manufacturing plants span more than 850,000 square feet in High Point. In addition, a new $39.7 million, 250,000 square foot plant will begin construction this Fall and open in early 2004. The company is a leading employer in Guilford and Randolph counties, with over 1,400 full-time employees.
Freightliner LLC, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, is the leading heavy-duty truck manufacturer in North America. Freightliner produces and markets Class 3-8 vehicles under the Freightliner, Sterling, Western Star, American LaFrance and Thomas Built Buses nameplates. Freightliner is a company of DaimlerChrysler, the world's leading commercial vehicle manufacturer.